How I Got Over, The Roots. *****
This record remains the sound of Spring.
The opening act of How I Got Over implores patience. Beautiful, hypnotic jazz. Melodic hooks and soulful, introspective lyrics. Everything on the opening three tracks infuses the record with purpose. The beautifully intricate instrumentation gives way to relatable, lyrical realism.
Then, Black Thought’s rap cuts and the hook plays. Dear God 2.0 abruptly ends Act 1.
Radio Daze (and ?uestlove’s hi-hats) noticeably raises the tempo, yet the lyrical content remains consistently melancholy. The oppression and optimism explored by the Roots flows and thunders throughout the record.
On Now or Never, heads begin to raise above the parapet of positivity, literally:
‘everything’s changing around me/and I want to change to… I want to get my shit together/it’s now or never’.
The albums title track has the most infectious, optimistic and uplifting sound on the record: the keyboards are fantastic, the lyrics (Black Thought’s verse particularly) don’t hold back, perfectly placed alongside the ta-ta-ta percussion:
‘before I go back to the Heavenly Father/pray for me if it ain’t too much bother’
‘I’m all cried out/’cos I grew up crying’
Act 3’s The Day is the most pop-friendly track on the album. After this high-point of sing along airiness, the record returns to a darker, heavier sound. However, the energy levels stay admirably high, with some superb guest appearances.
Listening again 7 years after release (I remember buying the CD on my first visit to Banquet Records), How I Got Over remains relevant: mature, melancholic, optimistic and everything in between. The blows have rained down, absorbed. Shoots are sprouting. This is an album for Spring. Things will get better from here.